Another round. …
Q: Of the incoming freshmen in 2009, who will most likely be redshirted and who will play? I’m interested to see how coach Steve Sarkisian balances the need for depth in the future with the immediate need, specifically special teams.
A: That is always one of the more interesting aspects of fall camp, seeing which frosh play and which don’t. There are only 13 scholarship freshmen this year, so if very many play, it does set up the prospect of a pretty small upper class a few years from now. As to who plays and who doesn’t, I’d really just be guessing on most of the guys — I don’t think even the coaches know for sure until they see them, play for a week or two in full pads. It’s a completely different game once the pads go on and surprises always emerge in both directions — guys who seemed destined to sit prove ready to go, and vice versa..One obvious candidate to redshirt is QB Keith Price due to the depth there and that QBs typically aren’t spectial teamers. But most of the rest seem like they could be pretty good candidates to play — they all won’t, but as of now, seems like most could. As you mention, Sarkisian has said the biggest hole the frosh can fill this year is on special teams. And most of the rest seem to fit the physical build of special teamers — none are OLs, for instance, who typically don’t draw that kind of special team duty.. So I would think that if Sarkisian feels 4-5 are needed to play, then they’ll pull the redshirts off and play that many — guess I’d be surprised if more than six or so ended up playing. As of now, not sure too many loom as candidates to play a lot at their intended position with the exception of WR James Johnson, who has drawn raves with his workk in 7-on-7 drills. But given depth issues, the DLs and TEs could also work their way into the rotation. (And to make clear here, talking only about the frosh and not the JC guys. I expect most of them to find the field this year, as well, and depending on their readiness, that could cut down on the number of true frosh needed).
Q: I’ve been thinking about our matchups with LSU and USC this year, and I don’t think we’re going to win them, but I’ve seen a lot of people saying that those losses will be so demoralizing that they could derail the season (ex. Ted Miller). What is so different about this team compared to the 2006 team with Isaiah Stanback that went toe to toe with USC (loss by 6) in the Coliseum and Oklahoma (loss by 17, though that was from one bad quarter) in Norman? In 2005 we went 2-9 (one of those wins being Idaho) with our full complement of players so I don’t really see 0-12 with young players and no Jake Locker much different. I think this team could do just as well as the ’06 bunch was doing before Isaiah went down.
A: The biggest difference is simply experience, which is generally about the most important thing in college football. That 2006 team had 10 seniors and eight juniors in its official starting lineup for the season opener — five more than this year’s team could have; and just 11 freshmen or sophomores in the two-deep — this year’s team has 23 in the post-spring depth chart. The 2006 team also had a lot of fifth-year seniors — if you remember, the entire class of 2002 was redshirted except for Nate Robinson. So there were a lot of key fifth-year guys in 2006 likeStanback, Scott White, Stanley Daniels, Clay Walker, etc. .That team also had a softer early schedule — San Jose State and Fresno State at home as two of the first three games, and opening in Pac-10 play against not real good UCLA and Arizona teams. (And not to be too argumentative, but I would also resist a little bit the notion that they went “toe-to-toe” with Oklahoma. The Sooners really dominated the second half of that game and I remember walking out of there thinking there wasn’t much question which team was superior). That 2006 schedule isn’t LSU, USC and at Notre Dame in the first five (and should also make clear that Tyrone Willingham didn’t always face impossibvle-to-deal-with non-conference slates).. And to be fair to Miller, I’m not sure he said UW would be demoralized. I thought he just pointed out the obvious — any win otther than Idaho in the first five will be an upset (Stanford not as big as the others, but still an upset). There’s no question this team needs some confidence, as even the coaches acknowledged with the way they set up the spring game and some of the other things they have done. And it’s just hard to see a lot of obvious confidence-builders early, so it’s natural to wonder how the team will respond — especially a team currently riding a 14-game losing streak. But the fact that this is also a first year under a new coach should mean the team will stay together better than the last few should things start off poorly. If this team had some more experience, I might be more inclined to see a bigger leap this season — though four wins, which I’ve been calling for, isn’t insignificant
improvement at all. But that experience factor, as much as anything else, is why I tend to see 2010 as a more likely season for something of a breakthrough.
Q: I read in the links the other day you provided that Ben Ossai probably won’t stay at guard. Why, and if not, what do you see as the starting line? I know Sark has trimmed them down and tried to speed them up. Has this materialized?
A: To be fair, I don’t think the link said Ossai “probably” won’t stay at guard, just that he might not, which is more than accuratet. Nothing has been set in stone up front, and I think Ossai will be able to move inside and out as needed. What the coaches want to do is have the ability to put the best five OL on the field that they can, so with guys like Ossai being versatile, it gives them some more options. What the starting OL looks like revolves largely around the play of the three young guys — Senio Kelemete, Mykenna Ikehara and Drew Schaefer. If Schaefer proves he can play RT, then Ossai can stay inside AND If Ikehara proves he has to be on the field, then Ryan Tolar has to move to a guard spot since he has to be on the field, that sort of thing. But none of that has been decided yet. As far as the OL’s conditioning, it was well documented in the spring that it had lost a combined 200 pounds or so. We’ll see in a few weeks when camp begins if that’s still the case, though the guys I saw when I went to a 7-on-7 a few weeks ago still looked pretty trim compared to last season.
Q: Any chance of a live chat soon?
A: Yes. For sure next week, but maybe in the next couple of days. I just may not be able to give much notice. So stay tuned and light on your feet.
All for now.
Another round. …
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